Days Out with the Kids: 10 Family-Friendly Day Trips One-Hour from South London.


Whenever I read blogs like this, I find that places like Warwick Castle and Stratford-Upon-Avon are often included.  Both are amazing places and a brilliant day out but, with littluns, 2.5 hours each way in the car or on a train is too far for us for a family day trip!  Let’s be realistic! Bored kids and fraying tempers do not make for happy family adventures!

The following ten suggestion are around an hour from south London (Clapham Junction) and are tried, tested and recommended by my little Londoners.

I should tell you that our criteria for a top day out include: outdoor space – woodland or gardens to walk, scoot, cycle; a play space – playground, natural play area, obliging tree stump; indoor space in case of bad weather – castle, country house, museum; facilities to make life easier – loos, parking, café. 

Hampton Court Palace is in walking distance of Hampton Court station and a direct train from Clapham Junction. Under an hour away from SW London, there is onsite parking – easy enough to get a space out of season or as soon as it opens in busier months. The Magic Garden reopens on 21st March 2020 – kids love the Magic Garden- but there’s still lots to see and do. We sometimes combine our trip to HCP with a walk along the river Thames or a boat trip. There are plenty of food and drink options but we often cross the main road and venture into East Molesey – take your pic from a range of cafes, bars and a Pizza Express where you can always get a table.

Kew Gardens is a vote winner in our family. They have the orchid festival (until 8th March 2020), the Children’s Garden and Climbers and Creepers for the kids in half term. Look out for the Gruffalo trail in the Easter holidays (April 2020). Parking at Kew in peak season is a nightmare (£7 parking fee and the car park gets packed!) On weekends you can park for free on surrounding streets and enter through Victoria Gate, but get there early! Kew Gardens is easy to get to by public transport and is a short walk from the station. Kew Palace and Queen Charlotte’s Cottage reopen on 3rd April 2020. There is so much to do at Kew- I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been, but each time I go discover something new. Top tip: have a look at the website before you go and plan your day- it’s difficult to fit everything in so prioritise and make the most of your visit. Read more about Kew and the Children’s Garden in my previous blogs here and here!

Leeds Castle in Kent is a lovely day out. A bit of a faff by train, it’s around an hour’s drive from SW London. Leeds Castle have their Half Term Explorers on this February half term which looks fab. The downside to Leeds Castle is the ticket price. At first glance you’ll think it’s extortionate but it is essentially a year’s membership – we went 7 times last year so definitely got our money’s worth! There is a lot to do and it’s a lot of fun – if you can visit several times in a year it’s worth it…and you won’t have to pay separately for their annual Christmas Market – deffo worth visiting!

On the theme of castles, Hever Castle is a brilliant day out and an hour’s drive from SW London. 700 years of history and Anne Boleyn’s childhood home you can see, do, learn, play…a full day of family fun. Kids will love the playground! Have a look on the website for curriculum-mapped trails and activities that you can use during your visit. Read more about Hever Castle in my previous blogs here and here!

Family snap at Hever Castle

Cliveden in Maidenhead is just under an hour’s drive for SW London. A National Trust property, kids will love the Storybook Play Den and getting lost in the maze…and there is a half term trail to keep the littluns busy!

Brooklands Museum is a 45-minute drive. It’s a great day out for kids who love all things transport! Super hands-on and interactive, check out the Concorde and snap a selfie in the cockpit! Read more about our day trip to Brooklands Museum here.

Just over an hour’s drive to Sussex is the Bluebell Railway. A super day out for steam train enthusiasts and, during February half-term, kids travel for £1 with a full paying adult (£20) Bargain!!

The Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden is a wonderful place, small but perfectly formed. Learn about the writer, his stories and characters and take part in storytelling and activities. Between the museum and the (separate) car park there is a playground and field (for running off energy) and, if you want to make a full day of it, you can combine your visit with a walking trail through the village and Chiltern countryside.

Portsmouth Historic Harbour is awesome! Breaking my own one-hour rule- Portsmouth is a slightly longer drive (but very straightforward) down the A3 and almost 2-hours by train (direct from Clapham Junction) but I’ve included it here because it is a fantastic day trip from London! The historic dockyards are filled with fun things to do- and it will keep the whole family entertained. There really is something for everyone, from grandparents to toddlers- naval history to pirate-themed soft play! At fist glance it does look expensive but you do get to visit as many times as you like within a year. We like to make the most of these annual tickets so we’ve been a few times. We have also combined it with a day trip and a snap trip to the Isle of Wight.

Lastly, the final day trip top tip is to invest in National Trust membership. From £6.50 a month for family membership, you get free access to over 500 places and free parking. We use our NT membership loads and save a small fortune on our day trips. Some of our favourites for a day out include- Knole, Ightam Moat and Cliveden– you have the house and gardens, family activities and facilities, and there are usually additional activities for kids during school holidays. You can read more about my love of the National Trust here, here and here!

Whatever you do…enjoy! Amy x

3 Comments Add yours

  1. our18summers says:

    Fantastic ideas! We’re going to definitely visit the Road Dahl Museum, it looks like a great day out. Thanks for this post x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amy says:

      So welcome! You’ll have a great time! It’s a small museum so not an all day excursion perhaps (depending on what you do) but we found it useful to play in the nearby playground and get something to eat in the town. Enjoy! X


  2. hafida says:

    Very rich informations with all the deatails and photos you ned to know before you plan your trips .Thank you xxx


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